The public should be aware of the dangers involving awnings attached to the side of recreational vehicles (RVs) and horse trailers.
The hazard is that awnings which have been rolled up and fastened to the side of the vehicle may become dislodged and hang out towards oncoming traffic.
This hazard is so common that one RV manufacturer stated on its website: "There are two types of RVers those that have had their awnings blown off and those that will!"
A defective awning lock resulted in the death of Terry Bassett, a Uniontown, Alabama city councilman who was returning to his home from a school board meeting. As Bassett's minivan approached an oncoming extended horse trailer being pulled by a 2001 Ford F350 truck, the awning on the horse trailer had broken loose from the trailer and was hanging down towards oncoming traffic. When the two vehicles met, the awning assembly from the trailer struck Mr. Bassett's windshield, killing him instantly.
This accident was preventable.
Mr. Bassett's family hired the law firm headed by former Lt. Governor Jere Beasley to sue the manufacturer which caused Bassett's death. Mike Andrews, who handled the case for the Beasley firm, discovered that the retractable arms of the awning were equipped with metal folding locks that were defectively designed and manufactured.
The locks were insufficient to withstand the wind which occurs while a vehicle is driving down the highway. Mr. Andrews found a number of alternative designs which are sold to prevent such lock failures. Some of these were available for purchase on EBay.